The NFL has easily become the most polarizing sport America has ever seen. Not only does it capture the attention on Sundays but just talking about it keeps everyone even remotely associated with the sport swamped the other six days of the week. With the access that radio, TV and the internet provide, it's very easy for analysts to get their opinions heard again and again.
It's also easy to create a minor firestorm when one of those opinions proves to be even slightly controversial.
CBS sportscaster Phil Simms is the latest to come to this realization after he made some questionable comments regarding New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning's place in the QB hierarchy.
On CBS Monday Nights “NFL Monday QB” show, Phil Simms was asked if he considered Eli Manning an elite quarterback. Considering that Manning has won two Super Bowls over perhaps the best quarterback-coaching tandem of all time in New England’s Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, most would answer yes to this.
Simms had a different opinion.
“No, he is not one of the elites,” Simms said. “Because when I hear the word elite, I’m thinking about guys that can make unbelievable plays on the field by themselves. There are very few quarterbacks in that category.
“So yes, Eli has been a tremendous team player. He has been MVP of the Super Bowl twice. I know that. But the way I look at it, the answer is no.”
Fast forward two days and a boatload of angry Eli supporters and Simms stands by his comments. On WFAN’s Boomer & Carton morning show on Wednesday, Simms refused to back down on his opinion of the younger Manning brother.
“I still said it,” Simms said . “You know, when I got done I could’ve said ‘You know, let’s redo that,’ because at that time we were taping a little segment. But I do stand by how I meant it.”
While he stood by his comments, he did try to soften them a bit by saying that he wasn't knocking Eli in any way, it's just that his definition of elite is a little stricter than others.
“When I hear the word ‘elite,’” Simms said, “I’m thinking about guys that can make unbelievable plays on the field by themselves. There are very few quarterbacks in that category.”
Simms went on to brake down the problem with this debate into the word being used itself, elite.
“‘Elite,’ it’s a new word in the football vocabulary,” Simms said. “I don’t remember hearing it 25-30 years ago. With the way it’s talked about now, Dan Marino was not elite, Warren Moon was never elite, Dan Fouts was not elite. Even though they went to the Hall of Fame, they’re not elite.
“So my thing was, when I think of ‘elite’ I think of great accomplishments with unusual, very good, incredible skills on the field. I didn’t even think about who it would be when I was saying it. Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and I think Aaron Rodgers kind of fits in that mode.
“And the rest we'll see about.”
For future reference, it is recommended that anyone associated with sports media that doesn't want to anger fans just refrain from answering any questions regarding the word 'elite'. There isn't any other word in the NFL fans dictionary that creates an angry buzz more than that one.
James LeBeau is a sports contributor for CraveOnline Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @JleBeau76 or subscribe on Facebook.com/CraveOnlineSports.
Photo Credit: Getty